I-Team: West Hazleton Fire Investigation – Still No ID on Victim

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(WBRE/WYOU-TV)     Questions are being raised by some in West Hazleton about why a man killed in a fire in January has yet to be identified.

     Some of those questions are being raised by friends of the man who they believe is the one who died in the inferno.

     But they also want to know how and why that fire started?  The I-Team’s Andy Mehalshick went in search of answers.

  “It’s still an open investigation and we are still working on it actively working on it,” Said Chief Brian Buglio of the West Hazleton Police Department on Thursday.

 Flames ripped through this apartment building on the evening of January 12th..11 people, including three young children barely escaped the flames. The body of a man was found inside the rubble. Detectives believe it’s that 30-year-old Grant Yamulla, a resident of the apartment who was last seen alive at the building the night of the fire. But the body was so badly burned – without a D-N-A test, no one knows for sure.

  “What we are waiting, for now, us to find out who’s going to pay for DNA testing? It’s a very, very expensive test. There is an internal discussion as to where the money is going to come from, where the funds are going to come from,” Said Chief Buglio.

 Those discussions involve the Luzerne County District Attorney’s office and the County Coroner.

 D.A. Salavantis tells the I-team she is working with the coroner but at this point in time, it is the coroner’s responsibility to identify bodies. Coroner Dan Hughes tells Eyewitness News  

“We are not yet at the point to do DNA testing. We are still hoping to identify the remains through dental records. Money is not an issue.”    

And while the bureaucracy works on, the people who live or work near the fire scene – want to know what happened.

  Well, the fact I asked you that question  if they found out if they have any new information obviously nothing has happened .so I’m guessing I’d like to know what happened,” Said Martin Beccone, Owner of the 4th Street Pub

 DNA tests can cost $5,000 to $10,000 and take 3 to 5 months to return.

   


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